Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Difference Between Being Sad and Being Depressed

We must not confuse the two as the treatment needs to be different as does the diagnosis.  Let us return to the brain and its three levels.  There is a big difference between sad and depressed. Sad is strictly limbic, second line emanating from amygdala, hippocampus and other key limbic structures.  Depression  lies deeper in the antipodes of the brain, out of reach, part of the shark/dinosaur legacy.  It makes me think that utter hopelessness can derive from an ancient brain,  the same brain that harbors rage and fury.  It can only be described in global notions of heaviness, no energy,  no ambition, no future, etc.  There are no words on this level which makes it difficult to treat; and certainly a cognitive, word-laden approach will not touch it.  That is why in desperation some doctors insist on electroshock therapy. Blasting the brain because they simply do not know what to do.  Pretty clumsy and massive.  The opposite of delicate and targeted.  What else can they do?  Talk to the shark brain and convince it of the ineffectiveness of its ways?  It doesn’t talk and won’t respond.  Doctors want to blast the brain because it seems so unyielding.  The station of last resort are pills; they help kill pain. But not forever; therein lies the rub.  We are mollifying, not curing.  We are adding  sop to the process hoping for the best.

Can we offer hope? Maybe, but against what?  Hope to get out and be free.  Who knows that is the problem?

Depression seems to come out of nowhere; it comes out of the non-verbal brain.  Herein lies one key difference.  Sadness can be described as to how it feels.  Depression cannot. Sadness is often situational/existential.  There might be a reason for it;  lost a lover, failed a class, did not get the promotion, lost a job.  It seems to come from outside.  And psychological counseling can help.  Depression can only be described by its internal effects, a heaviness,  cannot get out of bed.  What is being described are first line brainstem effects.  The problem is that deep hopelessness can be life endangering and can lead to impulsive suicidal acts.  The act comes out of an impulse laden brain that can act but not reason and cannot rationalize.  It cannot delay act-outs because that brain is what is behind act-outs; a brain with no great cerebral cortex to hold back action. And those who cut themselves sense this when they cut into themselves; they understand it is inside and deep and that they must reach it even in their crude ways.  They do not know there is a deep imprint there but it is all they can do.  It is what deep depression is.  I see it often when the depressed patient comes in immersed that state and begins to relive  the birth trauma or even before when the mother was  drugged during pregnancy and the child has no way to escape. It is indeed hopeless, there is no exit, no way out, to quote Sartre.

That all encompassing lassitude is what animals do when all is hopeless, locked in cages and unable to escape. The system gives up. It is just awful but it is treatable; no easily but possible.  The whole system accommodates to this state with  drop in vital signs.  The voyage to the deep brain has to be slow because we must travel deep into the brain that is millions of years old, and it must be done methodically and carefully.  In no other way can we become close to our archaic history.  I believe that in some of us the imprint may lie in the period when the system was on the verge of giving up; passivity and lifelessness were imprinted and drove our personal evolution.
 Those deep unconscious pleas to live must see the light of day so we know exactly what it is and what we are dealing with; only then can we say, “Cure.”


  1. A new edition of author William Styron`s book "A Darkness Visible", a memoir of his suicidal depression, has just come out. Also recommended for anyone interested in the subject is "Prozac Nation" by Elisabeth Wurtzel, a memoir of a young person`s depression.Both memoirs though bye into the medical system`s take on depression.


  2. Wonderful, clear, impacting and full of realistic hope for individuals yes, and for the world, absolutely.

  3. I want say how accurate this post is for me. I've moved to a better climate and expect to move permanently to Costa Rica in January to avoid the temperature extremes particularly cold. I was a winter baby. The more I focus on the essentials of health and comfort the better I rebound from feeling depressed. This has to do in my opinion with your old concept of the primal zone (i.e. not being overloaded or over-defended). Currently when I'm depressed I stay in bed and try to sleep and wish I could just cry. Actually things are developing surprisingly well as planned and so there is enough hope from that fact to keep me in the zone.

    When I walked out of The Primal Institute along with many many others in 1986, I abandoned software engineering because I could see where it was going and I have no regrets about that because it actually got much worse than I imagined but I thought I could carry on some how in counselling or psychotherapy but didn't realize how hard that would be with my entrenchment in primal theory and having no woman to share my life with. Now I have less energy to spend on helping other people: all I can do is listen and empathize. But most people aren't into talking about their lives they're in a big hurry to get somewhere in life and at the end of the day they would rather go for dinner and drinks and a movie. So I end up alone and feeling like I don't belong anywhere. The two most popular drugs aside from smoking are alcohol and caffeine. I was never into alcohol as it just depressed me, made me throw up and/or go to sleep. Caffeine seems to upset my stomach too much now. I gave up smoking nearly forty years ago.

    I know my life won't get a whole lot easier in Costa Rica but at least I will feel at home in that environment and being away from the rat race of the big city. Beyond that I can only hope.

    The "passivity and lifelessness" in the face of challenges like staying warm in the winter, or having a relationship with a woman, have eased a lot.

    Thanks for this post. It helps me to have enough hope.

    1. You are most welcome. I write to help people with their lives and since I spent time in Costa Rica I know you will love it. It is a sane country. Tamarindo beach is wonderful. Good luck Grahame. art

  4. Hi,

    Well I certainly have both, luckily for me, not too often at the same time. Surely it is a melange of (unfelt) sadness on top of depression which can lead to suicide?

    If there were a description of the mechanics of why it's so important to feel any 'sadness' in your life first, then this fits perfectly.

    I sense depression can drive sadness too; 1st line leaking into 2nd.

    Surely there's a way to get this simple Primal Theory into mainstream 'awareness'. . ?

    Paul G.

  5. I'm starting to get room to remember!

    I started thinking about how forgetful I am... how I do not remember anything... I forget everything simply. But it is not so... it's so that I begin to remember that I was oblivious about it throughout my life... it just come to my knowledge that I am and have been forgetful in my entire life. It has not even come to my mind... except that I have sometimes been annoyed that I did not remember the necessary things... more than my bad memory has not told me about.
    The memory that I have needed to remembering has simply been to busy with repressing pain... pain that would have been dangerous for me to just remember... dangerous for its intensity of pain... dangerous now and dangerous then. Dangerous now because I would not have been able to handle it... not without my knowledge of primal therapy... and life-threatening when it occurred. So primal therapy is essential in the process of remembering pain fatal by the time it occurred! The child in me is the answer primal therapy informs about!

    To hold on to forget in sence for what we do in our daily life is the primal therapy akillis heel... so in time now we have to stop with what we are doing for a while... it to begin to remember what we forgetting for about what we do... but it is painful.


  6. An email comment:
    "Oh! how wish the medical profession would just read you; and THINK. Alas I don't see it happening. Tell me I am, wrong.
    Where to take this, such that someone will take note????
    I know from the very depth of my being. you are RIGHT ON.

    1. And my answer: You need to figure out where to write to. I agree with you. thanks for the support, art

    2. Art, Maybe if you wrote a book again directed at the psychological profession specifically entitled "What every psychologist should know" you might get through to some. You could summarize the information from your other books; explaining about the triune brain and how trauma has to be relived on the level it occurred on. How therapy in the primal way is curative and what it could mean to the healing addiction, depression etc., and why most talking therapies miss the origin of pain.

      We can all write to Tavis Smiley about an interview for you and the Center staff. People should know that there are solutions to their problems. Maybe the psychologists won't read it but at least the public would know what they should expect from a therapy. Let the discussion begin. Maybe your seventeenth book will finally get their attention.

    3. Sheri, I do hope you are right. You do realize how many people write me to say that “you should write a book about………..” it is at least a 5 years project with intense research. My next will be my last. art

  7. An email comment:"A Happy Summary. Of a life of depression, sadness and pain propelled active mania.

    In a blog, a couple of years ago, I wrote that I had a deep positive imprint, as an ingredient of my methylated painful experience during my birth trauma. This lasting ingredient meant that I despite the pain got through and survived. A "neurotic" / manic optimistic methylation that has carried me through 75 years; next to the current date, and it has contributed to my desire / ability to re-live my birth trauma.

    Looking at my life in a longer perspective, I can break it down into the following phases:

    From my birth trauma to when I developed epilepsy. 0-20 years. A frenetic mano repressive / hyperactive period before ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) had been coined. My teenage years elapsed, in the absence of ability to concentrate and without internal barriers, with ad hoc studies at “The Street University” that fortunately gave me endless experiences for the future often bordering on the legal / possible.

    From 20 to 40 years of age. That is from that I started to consume anti-epileptic medicine until I, January 1980, experienced that a grand mal seizure developed into a birth primal. During these 20 years, I managed to combine studies, family formation, and a successful career, even though I below the surface was constantly depressed / worried. A depression that I kept in check with work, studies, diets and physical exercises. Occasionally, I suffered from leaky gates and primals (without knowing what it was) and petit mal tics broke through the defense and disturbed me temporarily. These 20 years were stained by a nagging depression that I am now consciously aware of had the same root as my epilepsy. My birth trauma was my epilepsy and my depression. In this depressive darkness, there was always an innate analgesic to think that I would find a solution, an explanation. The intellectual model I used to keep my balance, I had from Abraham Maslow's triangle.

    From my first extensive primal, 1980, I knew the root of my epilepsy and my depressive haze lifted and I got more confidence and after a hesitation between engaging in primal therapy, or seek greater challenges in the business world, I chose the latter and got 15 years of exciting and varied international experiences, but at the price that I had to consume anticonvulsants with the risk of liver damage. In addition, I was fortunate a number of times, in the ‘80s, to meet Arthur Janov, at Primal retreats, around Europe. That contributed to my epilepsy was sanded down. My career was successful but being aware of the risks and moodiness that my birth trauma involved, I refrained from the offer for large positions. This often meant a feeling of sadness. However, it was a bearable pain by that I knew its cause.

    In the mid 90's I started getting worn. Without healthy normal mental blocks, I worked too much, had to use many languages, moved often and caused broken family situations that drove me into a crisis. Then I realized that it was time to focus 100% on my own health. I was very motivated because I had got a daughter to live for and information from the doctors that my liver had been damaged by Tegretol / Carbamazepine. It was an administrative / bureaucratic complicated decision. Mentally, it felt right, despite the lack of not being requested / needed in the professional context (which had been my life). In front of me a few therapeutically painful and difficult years that gradually become better and finally a good cure.

    My experiences eventually led to a conclusion that I certainly never wish anyone to go through my birth trauma. However, I can enjoy the memory of all the absurdities that my pain pushed me through. A sour sweet sadness that I never had a “normal” life can sometimes hover past.


  8. An especially meaningful post to me, Art. Thanks.

    Sadness: My dog died last December. Never before had I experienced the death of someone I'd been so close to. It was devastating. I cried and cried, for days, weeks.

    Depression: I feel trapped; confined. No way out. Dark in here. Can't breathe. Gotta escape, but can't move. Got no future. Gonna die, gonna suffocate. What's the use? What's anything matter?


    1. Kip, When I lost my dog, one day, someone in the market asked me how my Mimi was. I began crying for a long time uncontrollably. art

    2. You cried uncontrollably. That's the way a well balanced human being responds to overwhelming information. Little human babies plants and animals show us the way. Tears have proven me to be the easiest and smartest channel to evacuate the surpluss of emotional charge the limbic brain is able to compress. We humans are the Out-of-Place artifacts. We're like the shipwrecked, stranded on a lonesome beach for hundreds of thousands of years. We managed to build a society somehow, put some rules here and there and kept breathing somehow. But it seems like we're as a whole at the end of some corridor. All our neurotic behaviours (I now recall the fishbowl scene from Nemo, the Pixar Movie), never considered as such before Freud, reach a point. Too much truth, often devastating, can't be handled anymore with the same old tools. Dealing with our shark brain requires professional therapy. And there you were. Art, You are never forgotten and deeply respected.

    3. She must've been really special, Art. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Do you know what it is to stand alone and listen to yourself?

    How will you be able to discover the madness when you are part of it... and in the midst of it? If you are not able to change anything you will stay there through out your life... if you are not suffering so bad and by it provides an opportunity to respond. But then... what you do will be decisive for your life. So it's a introcklad way you go without the right track... it with all the other offer exept primal therapy for care you receive... if you do not have the incredible good fortune to stumble upon primal therapy... stumble because that is what you need to do to get on to the right track.

    I know no one outside already initiated who know something about the primal therapy. Can we do anything to change it? Yes... by arguing with now established... it to be seen and heard! BUT when I try to be heard... it is heard no answer. It is an answer in its silence... but an answer that is not heard! SO WHAT DO WE DO?

    We are in the universe and looking for response to a crucial issue of what mankind is concerned... in the universe where no word reaches others minds. We are suffering... but we are also of science showing pain for any who wish not to hear! Is there a quiet revolution?


    1. I hear you and I do know what it is to "stand alone and listen to yourself". I read your posts right through, sometimes more than once, looking for a way out for you, as you seem to be locked into some kind of lonely circle.

      One problem for me is that you tend to be so general I am not sure what specifically you are talking about. When you have told about specific experiences I have been touched - I have heard in a deeper way.


    2. Grahame,
      I have noticed this too. I think Art has to be very careful not to offer therapy on this blog or in his writing. Thus the dialectic is inevitably generic. . . And, also, IF there ever was a 'unified field' of psychology, then surely it is in the dialectic of Primal.

      This leads onto the very strange and unique affect that learning and engaging in this dialectic has on one's own psyche. It kind of offers a 'holding environment' where previously there was none.

      Given the appearance of the Legacy Program I wonder what could emerge in other parts of the world if groups based around this dialectic could meet? One could be cynical and say it would merely be a 'church' of Primal - (waiting for the enlightened therapist to step in)!
      Putting satire aside, there was a time when 'chapels' were formed run by 'shop stewards' and these organised the training of apprentices whilst simultaneously delivering the manufacturing. . .

      Surely Primal is a unique way for humankind to 'make something' of ourselves? Is the Legacy a tool for this process?

      Paul G

    3. Yes.  Dr. France Janov has just finished something heroic putting the theory and our techniques on film and tape so the world can learn and so we do we do not retain any secrets.    Art

    4. Art,

      it's the 1st line isn't it?

      I am sensing that it makes a kind of intellectual 'resonance' up. . . it drives whacky ideas such as 'higher consciousness'; when really (as you have said so often) consciousness is purely awareness + feelings. The more access the better and fuller the consciousness and the less need for 'clever ideas'. But it is a road less traveled and also a road paved (or should I say 'littered') with the 'exploded myths' of one's own (and others) delusions, all driven by those pesky 1st line imprints. . .
      Also, because of the structured aspect to the left frontal brain these delusions appear to have rational structures as well, the cosmology and numerology is very seductive and any amount of 'logical systems' can be concocted with alarming 'clarity'. . . All so fascinatingly believable they can almost exist without a body or organism to contain them. . . Not.

      Paul G.

    5. Speaking of right brain/left brain; Trump is so emotionally right brained, when he is reading from the teleprompter he doesn't seem to believe himself.

      I think Ms. Clinton has a more integrated brain.

    6. Paul!

      It's something you do not understand by your comment "I have Noticed this too. I think art has to be very careful not to sacrifice therapy on this blog or in his writing." What you have to understand... there are millions of people who seek quackery every day... that is cemented in their minds and will die in their infancy of suffering. There is no better and finer than to get the offer for what it is to be done... for the opportunity to do it right. Let your fears... be a wake up call to what must be done for you... go to the center if you need... your thoughts on caution is just fine thought where you are in your reactions about of fears... I can not see anything better than what Janov offers us... to breathe and feel the wind for the first time with someone you love.

      Well... Primal therapy must be done with the greatest care and that's what you do when you begin to understand what it is about. There is a small child in us who cry out for help... the problem we have is that we do not listen to it!

      Art you are the best thing that happened mankind!

      Your Frank

    7. Frank,

      'offer' & 'sacrifice' are not the same meaning in the English I am speaking. I meant that Art cannot be our therapist on this blog. He has repeated this many times and I was following on from that by noticing and referring to Grahame's remark that Art can only make generalised statements. . .

      I hope that clears things up. . .

      Paul G.

    8. Paul,
      My reply about generalized statements was to Frank! Besides Art does both general and specific and the toughest, self revealing statements and so have you often. I have followed you all for years.
      My best,

  10. Quacks rule out their attempts to love they are suffering without hearing!

    If we knew how many people rule out attempts to love for how much it hurts in the child we carry... as we are... it without any understanding of the help we need... need to free the child in us.

    We are lost generations after generations after generations after generations in an endless stream of the heavy dormant "curse" of intelektuellas inability to feel.

    If we where up to feel... we would do much... much... much more. We just dont know and feel it. We can forget about the practitioners of quackery as understand something impossible... how are they to understand something else when they understand to not understand what it is they need to understand to feel?

    So... a quiet revolution is only going to choke it self!


  11. Quacks rule out their attempts to love they are suffering without hearing!

    If we knew how many people rule out attempts to love for how much it hurts in the child we carry... as we are... it without any understanding of the help we need... need to free the child in us.

    We are lost generations after generations after generations after generations in an endless stream of the heavy dormant "curse" of intelektuellas inability to feel.

    If we where up to feel... we would do much... much... much more. We just dont know and feel it. We can forget about the practitioners of quackery as understand something impossible... how are they to understand something else when they understand to not understand what it is they need to understand to feel?

    So... a quiet revolution is only going to choke it self!


  12. Art!

    One day when I get some money so I go to the US... if they let me in. Then I will stand outside your house knocking on your door and if you open then I will give you a big hug and probably I will start crying.

    your Frank

  13. Hi Art

    I do hope you are keeping well. I wanted to ask you a question and would really really really value your response. At the beginning of "The Primal Scream"you describe a situation where a young man is bemoaning his life and you said "But you have your whole life ahead of you" and in doing so you robbed the young man of being able to feel the pain of loss in his life. You have described this as "draping" where a therapist almost drapes thier own view of who the patient is rather then accepting who they are and in doing so they can stunt or halt any recovery. It is not unlike Alice Miller's view that an therapist should be passive and also on the patients side (Enlightened Witness) so that the real self has the confidence to assert itself.

    A couple of sessions ago I was talking about how I did'nt feel that a holiday had done me much good, that I had been driving and that I had not had any time to myself and this had put a strain on my relationship with my wife. My therapist said "I know you don't like me doing this but I can see that you look tense and unrelaxed". I felt a real stab of rage very deep down but did'nt say anything. Early the next morning at about 5am I woke up feeling angry and hurt and the first thought that popped into my head were those words from my therapist. My understanding is that such immediate thoughts and feelings on waking are very important? I have set this out in an e-mail to the therapist. There are times when I have almost frozen and shut down because I have been told to tell someone what I am feeling. It has been agreed that that was counter productive so my therapist has said things like "Is there anything you want to say" which often elicits results. I have not had many Primals over the past 4 years but one about 4 months ago was prompted afer the question from the same therapist "How did that make you feel as a little Boy". Incredible.

    I am feeling very confused at the moment. I just seem to find myself being confronted with people telling me what to do or how I feel and I don't think that is helpful. If I feel I am being told what to do I tend to curl up into a mental ball and physically shut down and the session grinds to a halt. I thought that part of therapy was sometimes about trying to side step a defence so that earlier feelings could be accessed. I thought that by being asked what I call an "Open Question" such as "How did that make you feel as a little Boy" meant that the menatl curling up defence was avoided and a Primal gained.

    I really would value your input on this. I am feeling very miserable and rather desperate to be honest. Am I geeting this wrong or is the Therapist getting this wrong. Actually I do feel so sad and desperate.

    1. Planespotter, You know I can't give advice based on a letter. Is your therapist a primal therapist trained by us? art

    2. Hi planespotter,

      It seems you need to educate both your therapist and yourself.


    3. Kello Planespotter!

      I neither know or have anything to say about your therapist but I get the feeling that you're carrying a hatred that closes doors to your self if you do not connect to it. But do not think that your therapist is looking for it if you doubt... you have to feel confident that you are in the right place.

      If I was unsure of a therapist... I would definitely make my self confident that what I do is right... but it can be difficult.

      your Frank

    4. Hi planespotter,

      I've nearly finished reading 'Beyond Belief'. I think all therapists will benefit from reading this book, and perhaps patients too. Art has linked belief to hope and so we are compelled to therapy on the basis of a hope, beliefs form around that hope.
      In an ideal 'therapeutic alliance' all that would be needed is the therapist's attention; no words at all. Even with my 'conventional' therapist, at first my hope steered me to my feelings without his 'intervention'. Later came the words and the complications. . . . There is no escaping the 2 dimensional aspect of words. No matter how 'thin' they are they still drape don't they?

      I think a lot of us English men (& women) have had so many words force fed us we have become deeply skeptical. . . 'Words fail' don't they?

      You have a good relationship with your wife by all accounts and some security at work. I imagine this could set up quite a contrast between the part of you that's 'out there' and the part you need to visit in therapy. I think access sometimes can be easier when external circumstances are persistently fractious because there is less value to being distracted 'out there'; turning within needs no words when our outside is a mess. Therapy can seem like a good idea when things are really bad on the outside, but so hard if life allows us to coast along. I could well be very presumptuous saying this but I will continue:
      While coasting, a holiday might seem like another good idea but my experiences of holidays are largely one of unaddressed assumptions and false expectations. . .

      They say a change is as good as a break and perhaps it's the change elicited by your holiday which has tripped you into some very difficult feelings. . .

      Take care

      Paul G.

  14. On the recent shootings in Dallas.

    Art has talked about prejudice; a group can easily attack you if you disagree with the group's beliefs. The influence of the group -- it is like mass hypnosis; everyone must follow the group. Or else.

    President Obama has campaigned against racism in the police force, supposedly for the purpose of increasing public awareness of police racism, in the hope of solving the problem. I don't see how his actions can solve the problem. I think he could be stimulating a group-hatred toward white police even when he says that most police are not racist.

    In my opinion, if Obama wants to solve the problem he should stop focusing on race and start focusing on the cause of racism.

    Today's academics are usually reluctant to publish statistics which show a disproportionate level of violent crime in African American communities; these are statistics that are often used by racists to defend the actions of racist police. Academics have learnt that it is better to focus on the causes of violence. Violence is not caused by the colour of one's skin. People of all races can become violent after growing up in a painful ENVIRONMENT.

    Statistics can be very misleading. In statistical terms there are high levels of child abuse in African American communities but there are low levels of child abuse in black communities in other parts of the world. These types of statistics are meaningless because they do not show the cause of child abuse.

    In my opinion, Obama, Clinton and Trump should stop thinking about statistics. They should start thinking about the "cycle of abuse". Then the politicians will find the real solutions; better care for the unborn child, better birth practices, and Janov's Primal Therapy for racist whites, racist blacks and anyone else who has grown up in a painful environment.

    1. Hi,

      it gets a start in repulsion and attraction, in black and white logic, for or against...

      Once your prey takes the bait, they can always be presented with new false goals.

      As Art has said, once you're on the wrong track every stop is the wrong destination. . .

      Revolution 'bridges' the Janovian Gap. . .

      Paul G.

  15. Art... a great sentence!

    "That all encompassing lassitude is what animals do when all is hopeless, locked in cages and unable to escape".

    We hold on to our thoughts instead of being paralyzed... which is to paralyze our feelings obviously... so what's worth what... that is the question. To be or not to be. All is about feelings!

    To imagine being locked away from myself to not feel... it can creates a perspective for thoughts... a reference to tackling the question of how I really feel... it to understand being locked up in situations where the lump in my throat does not make me to break out in tears due to be locked up in my self... it gives opportunities to think differently about myself .


  16. Art!

    Do you know who I am? I am a little boy who never got to meet my mom and dad!

    I just saw a movie with a very sad ending... I felt so out of everything... it was just me standing there with my arms hanging ... "I then... I never got to meet you mom and dad... MOM... DAD I NEVER GOT TO MEET YOU! MOM... MOM... DAD... DAD I NEVER GOT TO MEET YOU! And I feel a rush through my body as I never experienced before... MOM... MOM... DAD... DAD... with tears flowing down my cheeks with a feeling I have no word for... and then a peacefulness... and I breathe easy.



Review of "Beyond Belief"

This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.